A teacher was handcuffed at a school board meeting in Louisiana after asking a question about raises and the altercation was captured on camera.
The Louisiana middle school teacher who was thrown out of a school board meeting, handcuffed and booked on criminal charges says she won’t be silenced and wants an apology.
“By silencing my voice they’ve also taken away, or tried to take away, my First Amendment right to speak,” English teacher Deyshia Hargrave said in a video released by the Louisiana Association of Educators. “I’m appalled and you should be, too.”
Video posted on social media from Monday night’s Vermilion Parish School Board meeting showed Hargrave expressing dissent with the board’s decision to approve a $38,000 raise for the school superintendent even though teachers have not received a raise in several years.
Board President Anthony Fontana ruled Hargrave out of order, and an Abbeville city marshal official asked her to leave. Hargrave balked, but then walked out.
Video shot seconds later from the hallway shows the officer handcuffing a screaming Hargrave. She was booked on charges of remaining after being forbidden and resisting an officer, but authorities said Tuesday she will not be prosecuted.
“I was seriously panicked,” she said. “I’ve never been handcuffed in my life.”
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But Fontana dismissed her concerns, telling WAFB-TV that Hargrave “made a choice” when she resisted the deputy outside the room. He said the board has received death threats since the incident.
“This is not about the board, it’s about the teacher and everybody wants to side on the poor little woman who got thrown out,” Fontana told the Baton Rouge TV station. “She could have walked out and nothing would have happened.”
Debbie Meaux, president of the state educators association, told WAFB she was appalled by Fontana’s comments.
“He’s right. This didn’t have to happen to this ‘little woman’ as he calls her, but her name is Deyshia Hargrave,” Meaux said.
Gov. Bel Edwards weighed in, calling the situation “terribly unfortunate.”
“We need to do a better job of promoting our teachers in our communities and encouraging them in their walk as educators,” Edwards said.
The American Civil Liberties Union called Hargrave’s arrest “unacceptable.”
“The Constitution prohibits the government from punishing or retaliating against people for expressing their views,” the ACLU said in a statement. “The fact that a schoolteacher was arrested at a public meeting of the school board is especially troubling.”
Hargrave, in the video released by the education association, says she hopes people who view the video are strengthened by it, not intimidated by it.
“I continue to spread the word across the state, across the country, any way I can to make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else,” she said.
Contributing: Amanda McElfresh, The (Lafayette, La.) Daily Advertiser
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